All first-time moms out there know how difficult it is in the early months of your baby's life. It's a struggle to figure out why they're crying while you're constantly sleep-deprived and more hormonal than ever.
It's all too easy to feel frustrated as a new mom, so much so that you sometimes want to bang your head against the wall. These feelings are certainly not abnormal but they might be more common than you think. In fact, research shows that it's actually pretty common for new moms to even have thoughts about harming their newborn baby.
Research Shows That Half of New Moms Think About Harming Their Newborn Baby
Nichole Fairbrother and her team of researchers conducted a series of phone interviews with new mothers from Canada at 9 weeks postpartum and 21 weeks postpartum. They used an interview protocol called Postpartum Intrusions, which assesses intrusive thoughts or impulses that come to mind. More specifically, this assessment attempts to discover whether these new moms have any thoughts about harming their newborns. This is certainly an uncomfortable topic, but it's important to address issues like this because they are happening, whether we want to acknowledge them or not.
The researchers found that about 44% of the moms had thoughts of intentionally hurting their babies, which came out to 151 of the 340 moms. While this sounds jarring at first, it's certainly not the first time that research has found this statistic to be true. A study published on psychiatry.com found that anywhere between 20 to 50% of new moms and dads have intrusive thoughts about harming their infants.
44% of the moms had thoughts of intentionally hurting their babies.
To make matters worse, worrying incessantly about your baby or your style of parenting only exacerbates these feelings. And over-interpreting these thoughts can lead to obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). In fact, 19% of the moms who had these thoughts were also diagnosed with OCD.
It's Okay If You're Having These Thoughts as a Parent
If you're currently having these thoughts or you've had them in the past, that's okay. You're certainly not in the minority. The next question would be whether this is going to be harmful to your baby. Fortunately, only 4% of the moms who reported thoughts of harming their baby admitted that they behaved aggressively toward their newborn. Fairbrother and her team of researchers made it clear that just because you had thoughts of harming your child doesn't mean that you will harm them.
The best thing to do if you feel like you're struggling with these thoughts is to reach out for help. Even though this subject might feel taboo at first, it's best to ask your loved ones or a professional to help you work through these thoughts. And remember that you are doing a great job, even if it feels difficult during the day-by-day actions.